Sunday, September 07, 2008

The More Things Change...

I am reminded of something my father said about 20+ years ago: "Over the decades, Pakistan has made wonderful progress in everything--except politics." [On my father, today, the 6th of Ramazan is his first "barsee", as we say in South Asia--the first anniversary of his passing by the Islamic calendar. Please do keep him, and us, in your prayers.] I am attaching an op-ed from the person who is Editor Reporting for The News in Karachi (one of the two largest English papers in Pakistan; this one is owned by the Jang Group) and is a family/childhood friend. Over the years, I have been amazed as I watched him evolve into something really rare--and almost unheard of in the US mainstream media today ;) --a truly objective journalist.

Two paras I'd like to quote in next comments:
"Pakistan is a somewhat strange country, one may concede. We are happy to give an unelected military general nine years in power but balk at allowing the same to be given to someone who is not rigging the elections. Only because we think one is a “decent man” and the other, in our eyes, is not. An officer who violates his own pledge to protect the Constitution is acceptable to us because of circumstances but a politician who breaks an agreement with a fellow politician cannot be trusted."
A word for "Non-Resident Pakistanis":
"Overseas Pakistanis, whose crucial remittances keep our boat afloat, are usually well meaning, but bitter at the same time. The fundamental difference between Indians and Pakistanis abroad, and here one is generalising, is that when Indians meet socially they talk about how to make things better for those back home. Pakistanis, instead, criticise what is happening in Pakistan and pat each other on the back for being lucky or fortunate enough to get out of the mess. It sometimes seems they take pride in predicting the end of Pakistan, as if by this happening their decision of leaving the country would be vindicated."
On issues that face Pakistan:
"Power of any kind is an issue. There are many who ask when our other power crisis will be over and who is responsible for the mess we are in today. The callous manner in which the Karachi Electric Supply Co has been handled leaves many questions in our minds. For example, what change was made by the army administered management when it was put in charge of the utility, apart from overcharging unsuspecting customers?

The selloff also had its critics, but the manner in which KESC was managed by its new owners left a lot to be desired. Then the upright German CEO was summarily dismissed, and finally the ownership again changed hands in very unclear circumstances. None of this happened in the time of Mr Zardari. But it is unclear what the present government has in store in terms of fighting the power crisis in the country. There seems to be no action on this front. Instead, as we have seen in the past, near and dear ones are being bestowed with cushy jobs."
And lastly:
"The bigger issue is whether Mr Zardari is up to the challenges before him. Possibly not. One of the reasons is that it is highly likely that there will be a power confrontation between the PPP and the PML-N. In this, the establishment is set to back the PML-N. With the exit of President Musharraf, all the old players are aligning with each other. Past friendships are being renewed. The Sharif brothers are more acceptable to our doubters at home and abroad."
And so the game continues. (Do read the whole Op-Ed here.)

Who benefits? Don't look now, but the most organized and well-thought-out force in Pakistan today is way to the right of any of us.

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